Posted by: Rachel | February 27, 2011

spice is the variety of life…

We’ve all got one. You know, one of those big metal boxes in our kitchens that serves as a picture gallery, or bulletin board, or perhaps just looms quietly humming in a corner. The refrigerator, I mean.

Most fridges in my past were tucked into the kitchen in such a way as to have only the front available as “your message here” space. This kitchen layout is different, though, and it suits me fine.

my fridge as "spice rack"

a pinch of this, a smidge of that...

The fridge sits against the counter in such a way that both the front and one side are available real estate; it makes a perfect spice “rack”. And, since my kitchen is on the north side of my house there is no “direct sun” issue that could cause premature aging to befall my herbs and spices.

racks of spices in NYC

New York New York 's a wonderful town

I love visiting interesting groceries and spice shops when I travel. Its one of the things I research, happily, before a trip. That’s how I found out about Kalustyan’s in Manhattan. Someone on a food show mentioned them, I looked them up, and, because my cousins are kind people and understand me, I had a wonderful visit there. I could have easily spent several days, I think, poking around room to room and rack after rack. And then there are the wonderful Armenian grocery stores in Watertown, MA, but that’s another story. Mmmm…!

I am lucky. I have several good reliable local sources of bulk spices, and I take full advantage. I love being able to buy just what I need. It is wonderful trying just a pinch or dab of something new, rather than being forced to purchase more than I could possibly use in a year. Spices don’t last forever.

I abhor waste, and watching good spices get stale hurts my heart. Buying in bulk I can get enough for a few weeks and replenish as needed. Its easy to run over to Central Market and pick up a tablespoon of almost anything for whatever I’m about to make. Buying in bulk doesn’t have to mean buying massive amounts, you see.

There’s a new player in the spice arena in town. Talk about specialty shops! Savory Spice on East 6th smells intriguing from the sidewalk. I’d heard about them, and dropped in for a visit last week. Mmmm!

The shop is open and airy, nicely laid out, and there’s actually parking! Their spices are displayed by geography, flavors, uses: it makes sense to me.

display at Savory Spice

Savory Spice smells swell!

And, they have tasting jars of almost everything they sell, so you can smell and sample your way around the world. I only meant to get a few things, but came home with a happy bag full of goodies. What I really like is, in addition to their array of individual herbs and spices, they offer an amazing selection of herb blends. My two favorites for the moment are “Tarragon Shallot Citrus Seasoning” and “Herbs in Duxelles Seasoning”. Oh my.

Today, though, I’m not in the mood for exotics. Its a gray and damp Sunday, and I want comfort food. I’m thinking rice pudding, but with a small twist. This smells wonderful, and tastes great. Try it before it gets too warm to enjoy it!

Spicy Ricey Pudding

finished rice pudding

glowing and yummy

2 cups cooked white rice (leftover is fine)
2 cups milk, divided (1-1/2 cup + 1/2 cup)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup currants
zest of one orange, chopped very fine
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 cups cooked rice, 1-1/2 cups milk, sugar, salt and spices. Whisk gently to combine well, and simmer until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in remaining the 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg, orange zest and currants. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm.

This rice pudding really is as yellow as the picture. Turmeric is as sublte in flavor as it is bold in color, but it does add a slight earthiness to this dish and it is supposed to be very very good for you. So. Do you use turmeric in your cooking? Share, share!

Enjoy and let us know what you think!


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